Coffee Shop Coffee Cake

coffee shop coffee cake

So, donuts. I was going to make donuts but I had no luck. I first tried to bake them years ago in the special donut pan I bought for the occasion. They were a dense disaster and I gave away the pan to another sucker. When I recently approached the idea of making donuts I was more optimistic as I had found a recipe for donut holes. Okay, I can do this, I thought. But no, massive failure again. Hence today’s post on coffee cake. I’ll save donuts for another day when the frustration dies down.

I had never made coffee cake before but I figured I’d give it a go. I’d also never baked with gluten-free flour, but I decided to attempt that as well. I’ll just say that gluten-free baking is also something I’ll save for another day. However, the coffee cake was a success and it smelled great while it baked.

For the coffee cake, I based it on several recipes. I used the cake portion of the gluten-free recipe I tried and combined it with different topping and filling ideas. Some changes were to sour the milk with the apple cider vinegar first – this makes a “buttermilk” that works as a leavener in vegan baking. For high altitude I reduced the baking powder and increased the flour. And because I love cinnamon and wanted a delicious filling, I used a smaller cake pan so I could layer cake and filling and then cake and topping.

Coffee Shop Coffee Cake by The Decadent Vegan Baker
topping
1/2 cup organic sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 TBS ground cinnamon
3 TBS vegan margarine, melted
filling
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
cake
3/4 cup + 1 tsp soymilk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 TBS canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9″ round cake pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the paper. Start the cake by stirring together the milk and vinegar. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Make the topping by whisking together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Add the melted margarine and stir with a fork until well combined. Make the filling by mixing together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Finish the cake by sifting together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the sugar. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the soured milk, applesauce, oil and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.
Pour half of the cake batter into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the batter. Spread the remaining batter over the filling. Use a knife to gently swirl the filling through the batter. Crumble the topping over the batter. Bake until it’s dark golden brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 33-35 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Until next time, happy baking!

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Date Nut Bread a la The Ranch House

date nut breadI have wanted to bake the Date-Nut Bread from the Ranch House Restaurant in Ojai, CA ever since I first tasted it. At the time I didn’t even like dates, but this quick bread was pretty decadent. Sweet, moist, and great slathered in butter. The cookbook from that restaurant has been collecting dust on my shelf for many years, so it was finally time to conquer it.

The original recipe is neither vegan nor high-altitude and has a few quirky directions. It took me several tries to come up with a bread that not only tasted (and smelled) fantastic but also had the right texture. I did a few basic veganisms – oil for butter and tofu for egg. I added in some whole wheat flour to make it more healthy, while adapting for altitude by using regular baking powder instead of double-acting.

There is one step I didn’t change. It says to line the bread pan with brown paper. Just do it. I was using a non-stick pan so I thought I only needed a light oiling of the pan – it was a bad idea. The bread cooked perfectly except around the outside where it remained gooey and refused to release from the pan. I got smart on the third attempt and used lightly greased parchment paper. Some directions were written to be followed exactly.

Date Nut Bread adapted from Vegetarian Gourmet Cookery by Alan Hooker
5 ounces chopped pitted dates
3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 tsps baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup blended silken tofu
1 1/4 cups vegan sugar
2 1/2 TBS vegetable oil
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare a mini loaf pan by cutting parchment paper to fit three of the four sections. Lightly brush the pieces of paper with shortening and insert the paper into each of the three sections. The fourth section will not be used.
Put dates in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Combine the tofu and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the dates with their water, oil, milk and vanilla and beat again. Blend in the flour mixture in two batches. Add in the walnuts and mix well.
Divide the batter between the three prepared sections of the loaf pan. Bake for 33-35 minutes, or until the tops rise up and crack a little. Remove loaves from pan and place on a rack to cool.

Until next time, happy baking!

Custom Granola Bars

granola barsI know granola bars aren’t a decadent baked treat, but now that I have made them I can say I won’t be buying them in the store. They are like rice krispy treats – you melt some stuff, add some stuff to it, and put it in a pan. You do have to actually bake granola bars, but the oven really does that work. And once you’ve made rice treats you would (probably) never buy them. You know yours are better. Same with granola bars.

Admittedly, my first attempt was more granola than granola bar, but it tasted great over yogurt. Then I realized that I needed more of a ‘spackle’ so I tweaked a few things and got a bar that held together. There are no tips for baking at altitude because it wasn’t a factor; the only consideration was the lack of humidity requiring spackle because the mix was a bit dry. But the best part – I used ingredients I had on hand. I chose the nuts and fruit I like, with added chocolate, and I didn’t include yucky things like high fructose corn syrup. Here comes breakfast.

Custom Granola Bars based on a recipe by Dale Pinnock in The Medicinal Chef
2 TBS agave syrup
4 TBS coconut oil
3 TBS almond butter
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 TBS flax seeds, ground
2 cups rolled oats
1 TBS pumpkin seeds
2 TBS chopped dried cherries
2 TBS chopped dates
2 TBS chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease an 8×8″ pan. Melt agave syrup, coconut oil, almond butter and cinnamon together over gentle heat in a pan. Remove from heat and add flax seeds. Combine oats, pumpkin seeds, cherries, dates and chocolate chips in a bowl. Pour almond butter mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to form a sticky mixture. Press mixture firmly into the prepared pan.
Bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars. Will keep for up to a week when stored in an airtight container.

Until next time, happy baking!

Brunch for a Month

brunch

Image courtesy of ccharmon on flickr.com

I collect cookbooks and recipes. It’s a bit of an obsession. Lately, as I pour through my recipe collection, I’ve been drawn to morning treats. My latest post was already a muffin recipe, so I thought I would devote the rest of the month of August to baking for brunch. If you’re being less fancy, feel free to enjoy these baked goods at breakfast – with or without the mimosas.

The brunch recipes will include items I’ve thought about baking for awhile. One is Granola Bars because I am not only too cheap to buy them but I don’t always like the ingredients found in them. Next is the Date Nut Bread from The Ranch House Restaurant in Ojai Valley, CA – one bite of this delectable bread and I was hooked. And, to appease my chocolate cravings, I will try my hand at Baked Chocolate Donuts.

My morning meal can be quite routine, so I look forward to switching it up. I hope you will enjoy exploring the brunch menu as much as I will.

Blueberry Bran Muffins

blueberry bran muffins Truth be told, I haven’t made blueberry muffins in a long time. And those were from a box. But it was breakfast and couldn’t decide between blueberry muffins or bran muffins. Yes, this is a departure from my decadent, chocolate ways, but I was feeling healthy. Besides, fresh blueberries were calling my name every time I passed them in the market. So I decided on Blueberry Bran Muffins.

For my recipe, I found one that was vegan. I swapped out oat bran for wheat bran because that was what I had. The high altitude fixes were the usual – more milk and flour, less baking soda. Also, I had read that dusting blueberries with flour keeps them from turning your muffins purple. Not that I have anything against purple, but I didn’t think that would make an appetizing picture.

They were good still warm from the oven, but the bran seemed a bit pronounced. After they had cooled a few hours the texture smoothed out, but they were still quite healthy. I think they should be eaten with a glass of chocolate milk.

Blueberry Bran Muffins adapted from Sweet and Natural Baking by Mani Niall
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 tsp flour for dusting the blueberries
1 1/4 cup + 1 TBS whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
scant 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 cup + 1 TBS almond milk
1/3 cup liquid fruit juice concentrate (I used Waxed Orchards brand)
3 TBS canola oil
Preheat oven to 350F and line a 12-muffin tin with paper liners. Wash blueberries and pat dry. Lightly dust them with a teaspoon of flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, wheat bran, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to combine and make a well in the center. In another medium bowl, whisk milk, fruit juice concentrate, and oil until the surface is bubbly. Pour into the well and stir with a wooden spoon just until smooth. Stir in blueberries.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack. Serve muffins warm or at room temperature.

Until next time, happy baking!